In an effort to lobby Nevada lawmakers for the development of solar energy following the Public Utilities Commission’s decision to slash net metering, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive organized an event Wednesday night at the Gigafactory for Nevada politicians and top government officials.
Tesla and SolarCity executives held presentations meant to be “forward-looking and educational” and the whole event also included a tour of the Gigafactory.
Last December, the change in net metering rules imposed a 75% reduction of the price electric utilities pay for electricity generated from rooftop solar. SolarCity and several other solar installers have since stopped their rooftop solar installations in the state.
The situation was framed has a battle of billionaires with Elon Musk, Chairman and largest SolarCity shareholder, on one side and Warren Buffett, his Berkshire Hathaway’s energy group owns Nevada’s largest public utility NV Energy, which lobbied for the change in net metering, on the other side.
Several solar advocate groups have been lobbying for lawmakers to intervene and force the Public Utilities Commission’s to change its decision on net metering. Some rooftop-solar systems owners even initiated a class action lawsuit against NV Energy. The plaintiffs seeks restitution for what they call “anti-competitive actions, deceptive and unfair trade practices, monopolization over the electric utility in Nevada, price discrimination and artificial price inflation.”
Buffett recently defended his company’s position during a TV interview.
Now the latest effort to save solar energy in the state happened at the Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, last night. Vegas Inc published a list of confirmed guests at the event:
“Confirmed guests include Steve Hill, the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and several legislators. Sandoval was invited but had a scheduling conflict. The group includes Assemblyman Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, and Sen. Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, who sponsored the legislation last session related to commission’s decision.”
Tesla Chief Technology Officer and co-founder JB Straubel gave a presentation at the event:
Straubel was followed by SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive:
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and environmentalist, even showed up at the event:
Attendees were able to tour the first phase of the Gigafactory. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive was spotted all-smiles on the roof – scoping the location for a new array?
We recently had our best look at the Gigafactory in months from aerial shots of the battery factory – no solar panels yet, but Tesla plans to eventually power the plant entirely with renewable energy.
In October 2015, the company moved the Tesla Energy production line from its Fremont factory to the ‘Gigafactory 1‘ project in Nevada. Tesla has since been ramping up for volume production to start in early 2016. Consequently, we recently started seeing more energy storage projects being installed with Tesla Energy products. Tesla and Panasonic plan to start battery cell production at the Gigafactory later this year.
If the effort to reinstate advantageous net metering rules was to fail, solar installers might consider simply moving away from the grid and using energy storage systems, like the ones manufactured at the Gigafactory.
TL;DR Tesla and SolarCity held an event for Nevada lawmakers at the Gigafactory to lobby for solar energy.